5 BEST Squat Mobility Drills
We hear it all the time: “I’m not mobile enough to squat to parallel.” A lot of these same people then stop squatting altogether to focus on mobility work.
But guess what? With proper coaching and tweaking of your squat stance, many of these people are able to squat without the need for any mobility drills or exercises. And if solid coaching and tweaking of your squat stance does not change anything, then you still do not need to totally stop squatting altogether! If, however, you have pinching or pain when squatting and you cannot find a pain-free squat stance or a regression/lateralization of the squat exercise, then maybe you should stop squatting. For now.
So for those who have pain or pinching in the hip, what should they do?
This is where mobility work should be implemented. Not just any mobility work, but mobility work specific to the individual. This is why we always recommend getting your movement and joints assessed by a qualified healthcare practitioner…. So you are not just guessing what your mobility limitation is.
The 3 biggest things that we commonly see restricting squat depth and may contribute to pain/pinching while squatting are:
- Hip internal & external rotation mobility
2. Ankle dorsiflexion mobility
3. Adductor mobility
The five drills below help improve the mobility of the above three restrictions and can help improve your squat depth and may even fix your pain/pinching while squatting.
5 BEST Squat Mobility Drills:
1. 90-90 Hip Internal Rotation Stretch
Lack of hip internal rotation can limit squat depth and can definitely be correlated with hip pinching in the front/anterior part of your hip. If you have been working on hip internal rotation mobility without much luck, check out this video for solid tips or how to truly improve your hip internal rotation mobility for good.
PRO TIP: If you feel any sort of pinching in the anterior/inner hip area, then you need to change of your torso/hip/leg positioning. You should only feel a deep stretch in the musculature/hip capsule on the outer portion of your hip. The game-changer with this stretch is that it is an active mobility drill.
2. 90-90 Hip External Rotation Stretch
Lack of hip external rotation can also limit squat depth. If you tend to feel a large tightness/stretch sensation in your posterior hip/gluteal region at the bottom position of your squat, then this may be the exercise for you.
PRO TIP: Make sure you are not rounding through your spine when performing this stretch. Your spine should stay long. Think about reaching your chest upwards and forwards, while pushing your front hip backwards at the same time. Again, the game-changer with this stretch is that it is an active mobility drill.
3. Ankle Dorsiflexion Banded Mobilization with Isometric Contractions
If you do not have adequate ankle mobility, then this can definitely contribute to squat depth issues. And you best believe it is a common cause of anterior hip pinching at the bottom of the squat.
While there are plenty of ankle mobility exercises out there, this one combines them all together. You definitely do not have to do all parts of this exercise, but if you at least want to work on your ankle mobility via stretching your gastroc/soleus/achilles tendon, then perform just the active version of the calf stretch. Again, the game-changer is that this mobility drill is active.
PRO TIP: Keep your heel on the ground at all times during this stretch. Also, make sure your knee tracks over your second toe; do not let your knee cave inwards.
4. Adductor Rock Back Mobilization
Tight adductors are another common cause of squat depth issues and can also contribute to hip pain while squatting. If you have a lack of adductor extensibility/mobility, then your knees may be collapsing into excessive valgus and your lower back may even be dumping into flexion (the dreaded “butt wink”).
PRO TIP: Make sure your lower back stays flat/neutral throughout this mobilization. This position/exercise works on mobilizing the adductor muscles, but also improves lumbopelvic motor control.
5. Goblet Squat Prying
If you want to get better at squatting and improving the bottom position of your squat, then guess what? You need to spend time down there! The kettlebell (or dumbbell) goblet squat is a fantastic way to do this as it provides you with a counterbalance to keep your chest upright. Hold your squat at the bottom position only as long as you are able to maintain solid form. From here, you can add in adductor prying and hip internal and external rotation movements to loosen up the hips.
PRO TIP: Only squat down to your current pain-free depth in which you are able to maintain the natural lordotic/neutral curvature of your lumbar spine.
And there you have it! Our 5 BEST squat mobility drills to improve your squat depth and eliminate pinching in your anterior hip.
If you are still having issues with your squat depth or hip pain/pinching, you should optimize your squat stance. Remember, everyone has different hip anatomy and therefore, everyone should squat slightly different. And if changing up your squat stance does not seem to help, your best bet is to find a qualified healthcare practitioner who understands movement and strength training to help you and provide you with a thorough orthopedic/movement assessment.